Crestwood Board of Aldermen votes 5-3 to name Paillou city’s new police chief

City administrator plans restructuring of police department

By BURKE WASSON

For the first time in several months, the Crestwood Police Department knows who will serve as its official police chief.

Crestwood Police Sgt. Michael Paillou was promoted to police chief May 9 by the Board of Aldermen with a closed-session vote.

Paillou immediately assumed interim duties from Acting Chief Capt. Rick Downs and will become the city’s official police chief when former Police Chief and City Administrator Don Greer’s term expires July 15. Paillou will be paid a $77,500 base salary, according to City Administrator Frank Myers.

The Board of Aldermen approved Paillou’s hiring as police chief by a 5-3 vote. Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding, Ward 2 Alderman Chris Pickel, Ward 3 Alderman Gregg Roby, Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel and Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder voted in favor of the move.

Opposed were Ward 1 Alderman Richard Bland, Ward 2 Alderman Jim Kelleher and Ward 4 Alderman Pat Duwe.

The decision to hire Paillou as the city’s next police chief comes after Myers and Assistant to the City Administrator Justina Tate interviewed four candidates from within the Crestwood Police Department.

Applications for police chief were filed by March 20.

As for the decision to hire Paillou in May, Myers said he wanted to wait until the city’s newly elected aldermen are serving. Myers declined to reveal the identity of the other three candidates from within the department who interviewed for police chief, although city officials did say that one captain and one lieutenant from the department interviewed for the post.

But Paillou now is slated to be the city’s next police chief, and Myers said he believes that based on the recommendations of city staff, the Crestwood sergeant is the best choice to lead the Police Department.

“What I’ve done since I arrived … I’ve met with every employee in the city,” said Myers, who became city administrator earlier this year. “And in meeting in small groups with members of the Police Department, I began to formulate from them issues and challenges that we would be addressing in our department. So as Justina and I began to develop questions for police chief, we based those on the comments and input that I got from the Police Department and we developed an assessment of needs based upon that.

“And through that process, Mr. Paillou was the one candidate that really stood out as really the best candidate to address those needs. He seemed to have the insight of the challenges of the department and also provided responses on how to meet those challenges.”

Besides taking on those tasks, Myers also said he wanted to find the right person to improve the attitude of the Police Department.

“The other thing is taking a fresh look at building morale in the department,” he said. “With, you know, everything that’s happened in the community and maybe officers not getting pay raises and this assumption that there was going to be a new police building and then there wasn’t and just all the turmoil the community has gone through, it has affected all of our entire work force, but certainly affected the Police Department. We need to develop strategies to reenergize that department and elevate performance. And you’ve got to address morale to elevate performance.

“Also, you’re going to have to have a chief that understands the fiscal constraints of the community and is going to take a very austere approach to managing those things.”

Besides hiring a new police chief, Myers also said Friday that he is focusing on “restructuring” the Police Department. That doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating positions currently filled, he said, but rather reevaluating some duties in those positions and studying the need for any that are currently unfilled.

“We are looking to restructure the department and we’re not looking to eliminate any positions that are occupied by people,” Myers said. “But positions that are vacant, you know, taking a fresh look at those and seeing how both their need and how they should be and what the duties should be and how that could be strategically used. For example, we have two captains. Reassessing those positions and assigning those duties … so it’s not just in terms of eliminating staff or restructuring an organizational chart. It’s also looking at people’s jobs and redefining what they should be doing.”

As an example of those studies, Myers said city staff would be evaluating the need to fill Paillou’s vacated sergeant position on the Police Department.

He also said he would like to reassign some duties that had been handed to the Police Department and police chief — like residential code enforcement — because Greer previously had served as both police chief and city administrator.

“The position of police chief was structured to accommodate an individual who is both police chief and city administrator,” Myers said. “And with that position being broken out, the structure needs to be adjusted to go back to a traditional one for the Police Department.”